'Zack Snyder's Justice League': Movie Review
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ZACK SNYDER’S JUSTICE LEAGUE is a new, action packed four-hour version on HBO Max of the 2017 movie about Batman and Wonder Woman gathering a team of superheroes and resurrecting Superman to stop a demonic, alien supervillain trying to take over Earth to pave the way for his evil overlord, a demonic destroyer of 100,000 planets in the “multiverse.” Despite its length, ZACK SNYDER’S JUSTICE LEAGUE is even better structured, more absorbing than the original version and retains most of the first version’s redemptive, morally uplifting messages, but it adds a few more graphic images of violence, several “f” words and attaches a weird, dark epilogue that undercuts the main plot’s positive outcome, so MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution for this new R-rated version.
The new version opens with scenes from BATMAN V. SUPERMAN where Superman dies during the battle which finally kills the giant monster Doomsday, which was created by Lex Luthor using alien technology from a crippled ship from the Planet Krypton. Superman’s absence has emboldened the world’s villains, and things have gotten worse. In fact, Superman’s human mother, Martha Kent, has had to sell the family farm.
After stopping a terrorist bomb in London from a reactionary group wanting to bring back “the Dark Ages,” Wonder Woman receives word from her mother and the Amazons that a “Mother Box,” an ancient, powerful alien artifact they were hiding, has returned to life. Worse, the box’s re-awakening has brought back an old enemy, a satanic supervillain named Steppenwolf and his group of demonic alien monsters called “Parademons.” After a huge fight over the Mother Box with the Amazons, Steppenwolf has stolen the box that the Amazons have hidden for 5000 years and is looking for two more. When combined together, the three boxes, which have the power to destroy and create new life on a massive scale, will give Steppenwolf power to remake and control Earth. He wants to offer Earth to his dark overlord, an even more powerful demonic villain named Darkseid. Steppenwolf once betrayed Darkseid, but he wants to redeem himself and restore their partnership. Apparently, it’s good to be the right-hand man of this twisted King.
During the battle with the Amazons over the Mother Box, it’s revealed that Steppenwolf and Darkseid have the power to make other creatures their obedient slaves and transform them into Parademons. After the battle, Steppenwolf sets up a secret base of operations in the destroyed nuclear power cone at Chernobyl. From there, he sends out his Parademons to search for the other two Mother Boxes. Five thousand years ago, the Amazons, people from Atlantis, the ancient Greek gods of old, and the men of Earth teamed up to defeat Steppenwolf and Darkseid. They hid one box with the Amazons, one with the Atlanteans and one with the race of men.
Batman teams up with Wonder Woman to gather a team of superheroes to confront the threat. They reach out to three superheroes, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash, to help them confront Steppenwolf and his minions. However, only The Flash (aka Barry Allen) agrees right away to help. In the midst of this gathering, the movie reveals more about the biographies of Cyborg (aka Victor Stone), Aquaman (aka Arthur Curry) and the Flash. These scenes don’t slow down the plot, but add to the movie’s character development. Also, the scenes show that Cyborg’s estranged father, Silas, director of Star Labs, found the Mother Box given to mankind and used the box’s powers to heal his son, who was extremely disabled in a terrible accident, and transform Victor into a bionic robot/man with supercomputer abilities. Cyborg is now hiding the third Mother Box in his apartment.
Eventually, Steppenwolf retrieves the second Mother Box in Atlantis, and the Parademons kidnap Cyborg’s estranged father so Steppenwolf can grill the poor man about the location of the third Mother Box. Batman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, and Flash figure out where Steppenwolf is hiding Cyborg’s father and some other scientists. A huge battle ensues, and they barely are able to rescue Cyborg’s father and the other scientists and get away.
Batman decides they need to risk resurrecting Superman using Cyborg, the lightning from The Flash’s use of the “Speed Force,” and the third Mother Box in Cyborg’s possession. Using the third Mother Box and its power, however, could destroy both Cyborg and Superman. Also, it risks alerting Steppenwolf about the box’s location. The experiment turns out to be a success, but with some complications. Superman doesn’t remember who he is or anything about his past. He lashes out violently against everyone until Lois Lane appears and stops his rage, showing that love can overcome almost anything. Also, Steppenwolf eventually retrieves the third Mother Box. So, the superheroes must locate Steppenwolf’s hidden base and stop the three Mother Boxes from uniting to create the power that Steppenwolf needs to take over Earth and hand it over to Darkseid.
Despite its length, ZACK SNYDER’S JUSTICE LEAGUE is even better structured, more absorbing and more powerful than the original 2017 version. Ben Affleck as Batman, Henry Cavill as Superman and Gal Godot as Wonder Woman retain the power they displayed in the original movie. Also, the movie fleshes out the characters of Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman in a much better way, though the acting still could be more dynamic. In addition, the movie could still use some more humor.
ZACK SNYDER’S JUSTICE LEAGUE retains most of the first version’s redemptive, morally uplifting messages. For example, the movie extols good overcoming demonic evil and light overcoming darkness. It also extols family, especially the importance of fathers (though Clark Kent’s mother, Martha, is a strong positive role model in the movie). Also, [SPOILERS FOLLOW] Superman is resurrected in a sequence involving symbolic water baptism and lightning. In other scenes, Batman extols faith over humanist mockery and doubt. In addition, the good guys are battling a satanic villain who has demonic underlings serving his bidding, people talk about “saving” the world. Also, at one point, Batman says, “God help us,” but the movie makes no overt positive references to Jesus.
There are, however, two moments that contain offhand Anti-Christian elements.
In the first one, a minor villain trying to blow up four city blocks says, “Down with the modern world. Back to the Dark Ages and the safety of holy fear.” This is an oblique, false mockery of Christian history (in reality, there were no “Dark Ages”). Shortly thereafter, however, Wonder Woman makes sure the bomb explodes in the sky instead. The villain then asks her, “What are you?” “A believer,” she replies.
In the second one, it is said that the three Mother Boxes, whenever they’re near one another, unite to create something that’s called “The Unity,” which has the power to destroy life and create new life on a massive planetary scale. This motif could be seen as a mockery of the Christian idea of the Holy Trinity. However, since the Mother Boxes are described as a powerful alien technology that looks like magic, the three boxes can also be seen as a kind of extremely powerful man-made technology that Steppenwolf and Darkseid, the demonic villains, are trying to use to elevate themselves above God and all of His creatures.
In addition, Director Zack Snyder has cut out one of the best lines in the first version, when Superman tells Steppenwolf, “I believe in Truth; and, I’m a big fan of Justice.” However, he’s left in Batman’s many comments about relying on faith, though in one line Batman suggests that faith is opposed to reason. Such comments, which are prevalent in today’s modern world, suggest to many people that religious faith, or faith in general, is opposed to logic, evidence or reason itself. Though human reason is clearly flawed, and human beings make up also sorts of false reasonings about one thing or another, Reason with a Capital “R” itself is not flawed or false, and religious faith doesn’t necessarily violate the basic laws of logic that form the foundation of Reason. In fact, if there is indeed a God, especially a God like the God of the Christian Bible, then God is the Divine Author not only of all life, he’s also the Divine Author of Logic and Reason, as well as the Personal Transcendent Embodiment of Life, Logic and Reason. In the Christian Bible, Christian faith isn’t opposed to logic, factual evidence, eyewitness testimony, or even the scientific method. Concerning the scientific method, it should be noted that the scientific method isn’t something that can be applied to every area of life. For example, the scientific method can’t be used in determining historical truth or in passing judgment on such things as romantic love, brotherly love, or the love between a child and his two parents. It can only be used to measure the physiological effects that occur when we search for historical truth or when we love a person of the opposite sex, a neighbor, a parent, or a child. Finally, the scientific method can’t tell us what is morally right and what is morally wrong. In fact, it is actually the Divine Character of God that reflects what is morally right and morally wrong. For example, the Ten Commandments are not just moral decrees from God, they are also verbal expressions of God’s Transcendent Moral Character. Sadly, many people often get these distinctions confused. Also, relying on popular culture such as a quick line of dialogue in a movie to straighten them out for us is foolish. This one line about Faith and Reason, however, is only a very brief part of ZACK SNYDER’S JUSTICE LEAGUE, so it’s not as big a problem as some of the other negative things in the movie.
For example, one of the movie’s bigger problems is the somewhat lengthy, weird epilogue [SPOILERS FOLLOW]. The epilogue is rather dark and even undercuts the climax that positively resolves the main plot. In the epilogue, Batman has a dream where Batman imagines a future where Darkseid and his forces have laid waste to Earth and surrounded Gotham with desert. As Darkseid’s Parademons fly toward Gotham City, Batman has gathered Flash and Cyborg outside Gotham (an earlier nightmare shows Darkseid killing Wonder Woman and Aquaman). Also with Batman are the supervillain Deathstroke and Batman’s archnemesis, Joker, who apparently have decided to help Batman fight Darkseid. As they prepare for battle, Joker taunts Batman and accuses him of causing the deaths of Robin and Lois Lane, Superman’s bride-to-be. Batman threatens to kill Joker if he gets out of line when an angry Superman approaches. A closeup of Superman shows that Darkseid has somehow turned Superman into a Parademon with glowing red eyes, and Batman wakes up from his nightmare. This epilogue apparently is an attempt to set up a sequel to this movie, but the dialogue between Batman and Joker, followed by the appearance of a demonic Superman, is too dark and depressing, and unnecessary. Also, MOVIEGUIDE®’s not a fan of Jared Leto’s version of Joker. Leto’s Joker is not really that menacing, much less entertaining, he’s just creepy. As a result, Leto’s version of Joker strikes us as a superficial characterization that lacks real depth. If you make Joker too psychotic or creepy, you’re depriving the character of his charisma and panache, two things that also make him a great villain, a great antagonist for the hero, Batman.
A final problem that undercuts the positive vibes from the ending to the movie’s main plot is the song that runs over the end credits. Snyder has chosen a version of Leonard Coen’s song “Hallelujah,” by Allison Crowe. This version of the song ends with one of the downbeat lyrics and omits the final, more uplifting lyric referring to God as the “Lord of Song.”
MOVIEGUIDE® commends ZACK SNYDER’S JUSTICE LEAGUE for its high quality, entertainment value and positive redemptive content. However, the epilogue and end credit song leave the movie with a sour aftertaste. ZACK SNYDER’S JUSTICE LEAGUE also adds a few graphic images of violence and several “f” words. So, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution.
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